Week 7: NPR Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt

To create my video I wanted to incorporate all the places and people that were involved in the NPR Planet Money T-Shirt process. I screenshotted all the pictures of the main characters and places in the video essay and imported them into my iMovie video. I wanted to mimic the main message of the NPR video essay and highlight the sheer amount go time and effort goes into each and every t-shirt. What is a simple purchase for us has a whole world behind it. My audio and quote mimic this idea and show the pride of the people involved in the process. My first audio clip playing over the photos is from Doris Restrepo, a garment worker in Colombia. For many women in Colombia the industry offers them a respectable and decent way of earning money, getting paid more than 4x that of those in the garment industry in Bangladesh. My second quote which I overlaid on the image of hanging shirts came from Anupam Ahgrahwall, an owner of Indorama, a spinning factory where cotton becomes yarn. The workers and owners of the process have such pride in their recipe of perfecting yarn, their formula as much of a secret as the recipe of Coca-Cola. Ahgrahwall’s quote reveals the strong feeling of ownership of yarn that is the perfect mixture of strong, soft and durable.

It’s the small things like the importance of the type of yarn in our clothing that we never think about. We overlook the hard work and process that goes into what we wear and rarely question the process. This video series showed me the ignorance of those in the United States, admittedly as well as my own, on the whole world behind our clothing. I also think the NPR video essay and podcasts can be further examined in terms of the identity we perform when we wear clothes. Our identifications through being a part of an “inescapable collectivity” of an audience is discussed in our keywords. Through our clothing choices we fall into a diffused audience who perform an identity over time and space. We are sold these products and maintain the associations with them  and others who also wear them and adhere to the identities embedded in them.

I ended on Fashion: At What Cost, quoted from the Al Jazeera at the end “Bangladesh- The Cost of Fashion”. This video discussing the low wages of workers in Bangladesh in comparison to say a superstore like Walmart. I wanted to include the video clip to show the cost, the human cost, of our clothes. Workers in the garment industry in Bangladesh get paid the lowest wages in the industry in the world. Conditions are often dangerous as demonstrated by the Rana Plaza garment building collapse that killed 1,134 people. Factory owners ignored a crack in the structure causing outrage and protests across the nation. However, the issue is complicated, these jobs are vital to many workers as a means to put food on the table and make a living. To increase wages and increase labor costs puts their companies at a threat of going out of business and their wages being gone all together.

Questions: The NPR podcast discusses how the “garment industry follows poverty” because companies will move their business to countries with the lowest prices, to countries with the lowest wages. So what needs to happen for that to change?How do we stop companies like Jockey from pulling out of deals in countries where women depend on the garment industry for wages? How do we make companies in the United States become committed to raising wages for workers and labor in order to protect their safety? If the Rana Plaza building collapse and the death of more than 1,000 people barely makes a change, what will? Planet Money shows us how distant citizens are from the garment process, the Al Jazeera video even discusses how some people in the US even prefer to buy new clothes instead of washing theirs. So how do we as consumers take an active role in changing this industry? Do we boycott buying from big brand companies until they make a commitment to ensuring the safety and fair wages for the people who create their clothing? What other actions can we take on the consumer side to force companies to make a change?